„Whenever I return from a vacation, I know that there will be up to 1000 emails waiting for me. I will need 2 – 3 weeks to catch up, neglecting other tasks. Sometimes I think it might be saner to not go on vacations anymore.“
This is the depressing reality for millions of employees: It has become increasingly impossible to disengage oneself from the steady stream of electronic communication, more and more via tablet and smartphone. Reasonable employers have long realized that the pressure to be constantly online is harmful to their employees, doing a disservice to their organization in the long run.
But is there an alternative?
I recommend that you thoroughly check at which workplaces email service can be cut off during employees’ vacation. People sending mails to them would get the usual absence notification providing phone number and email address of the person standing in. Additionally they would be informed that their mail will neither be saved nor answered in order to protect the employee’s vacation and recreation. It will then be up to them to decide: Do I need to contact the person standing in or can I wait until the employee’s back in the office?
Clearly, in a smaller organization this may not work for some management or fundraising positions. But even here, space for creativity might be greater than you first think. Positive side effects are: Internal regulations for substituting in someone’s absence will be taken more seriously, since all incoming communications are not going to crash down on the person returning from a vacation. Employees will feel less irreplaceable, which is good, and your partners will get an example for how work can be organized in a more humane way.
Why not use such a step in the interest of your employees’ health to create positive publicity for your organization? You might even set off a trend among your peers.